Avoiding predators is one of the most crucial challenges that animals face. However, animals have to deal with a trade-off between time spent being
vigilant versus other activities such as foraging or mating (Ings & Chittka, 2008). Living in a group provides advantages by increasing the number of sensors available for predator detection, but it also enables animals to learn from knowledgeable individuals Y-27632 to recognize predators (Griffin, 2004; Bell et al., 2009). Even non-social animals can benefit from the surrounding vigilant heterospecific animals sharing the same habitat to improve their detection rate (Fig. 1). Furthermore, the overall detection probability can be Ruxolitinib price increased because of species differences in terms of perceptual sensitivity or vigilance. Thus, ‘eavesdropping’ on alarm cues generated by heterospecific animals is often a rewarding strategy. Reactivity to heterospecific alarm cues (e.g. alarm calls, fleeing movements and chemical cues) has been found between fish species (Brown, 2003; Pollock et al., 2003), different species of frogs (Phelps, Rand & Ryan, 2007), birds (Griffin et al., 2005; Templeton & Greene, 2007; Magrath, Pitcher & Gardner, 2009a,b; Magrath & Bennett, 2012) and lemur primates (Fichtel, 2008). Moreover, this information transfer also occurs across widely different taxa such as between Galápagos marine
iguanas and mockingbirds (Vitousek et al., 2007), red squirrels and jays (Randler, 2006), dik-dik ungulates and go-away birds (Lea et al., 2008), Diana monkeys and hornbill birds (Rainey, Zuberbühler & Slater, 2004), and between impala ungulates and baboons (Kitchen et al., 2010). A few species are known to emit different alarm
calls depending on the nature of the threat (e.g. Seyfarth, Cheney & Marler, 1980; Slobodchikoff et al., 1991; Manser, Seyfarth & Cheney, 2002; Seyfarth & Cheney, 2003), and some animals are Depsipeptide datasheet capable of responding appropriately to the specific message of the alarm code used by another species. For example, white-browed scrub wrens (Leavesley & Magrath, 2005) and superb fairy-wrens (Fallow & Magrath, 2010) both add more elements to their alarm call when the predator distance decreases, thus coding the emergency of the threat. Fallow & Magrath (2010) showed that both species responded to each other’s alarm code in accordance with the encoded message: the birds are more likely to flee and stay under cover for longer when hearing heterospecific playbacks that include more elements. Similarly, black-capped chickadees can specify information about the associated risk and size of the predator in their call (Templeton, Greene & Davis, 2005). Red-breasted nuthatches show the appropriate reaction when hearing the chickadees’ alarm calls (Templeton & Greene, 2007).